By Claire Walla
The fight to completely lift parking restrictions on Noyac Bay Avenue has finally been called. On Tuesday, August 9, the Southampton Town Board voted two-to-three to keep a partial restriction in place.
As it stands, 100 feet of space, or room for up to four cars, is open to all residents without restrictions. The rest of the block has posted seasonal “no parking” signs, prohibiting parking between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The issue was initially brought to the attention of Southampton Town officials by several Noyac residents last year after they were surprised to find they were issued parking tickets in the area. Councilman Jim Malone largely spearheaded the effort to develop a compromise between Northampton Colony residents and those in the greater Noyac community, ultimately passing a resolution last month, for the 100 feet of available parking.
However, the end of Noyac Bay Avenue has sparked a greater philosophical debate stretching beyond the Southampton Town board and into the greater East End community. During public hearings on the issue, Southampton Town Trustee Jon Semlear urged the board to lift the parking ban, while representatives from the Surfrider Foundation and CfAR argued that parking restrictions on any town road compromise public access to the town’s waterways.
On these grounds, Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst and Councilwoman Bridget Fleming sponsored the resolution to lift all parking restrictions. They were the only town board members to vote in support of it.
“We lost,” said Noyac resident Dr. Stanley Shore, who was vocal in his opposition to restricted parking. He said the significance of the board’s decision this week is not in the fact that parking is now limited. “I can still go there,” he admitted. “There are never more than three cars there at a given time. It’s the principal of the thing that counts,” he continued. “Because there are no other [parking restrictions] in any of the other 40 streets [in Southampton Town] that end in the bay.”
He was disappointed by the town’s vote, particularly councilman Jim Malone’s. “He just caved in, even though he was the one who started the whole thing,” Shore lamented.
“I’m disappointed,” Fleming said in an interview Wednesday. “I’m very disappointed the majority chose to vote against the fundamental right [for all residents] to have access to our waterways. One of the essential ways to protect our waters is to ensure access. It’s part of the essential value of where we live. And certainly, as a Noyac resident, it’s one of the essential aspects of this community.”
Northampton Colony residents have a different perspective on the matter. Noyac Bay Avenue sits between the Northampton Colony clubhouse, which is paid for and maintained by local homeowners, and the Northampton Colony Marina, a private docking area.
The parking restrictions were put in place a couple years ago when neighbors said there was an increase of thefts in the marina, as well as instances of beach goers using Northampton Colony beach club facilities without authorization.
Larry Tullio, who is the harbor master at the marina, said he didn’t understand why the town had put forth a motion to lift the parking ban entirely after the community had already come up with a compromise. He wanted the town “to just leave it the way it is,” with room for up to four cars.
“We made a compromise and [the town] respected the compromise,” Tullio added. “That’s what I expected them to do.”